Documents of an Elite Viet Cong Delta Unit: The Demolition Platoon of the 514th Battalion: Part One: Unit Composition and Personnel
Jan 1, 1969
Translations of the personal correspondence of members of a Viet Cong demolition unit operating in the Mekong Delta. This is the last in a series representing the entire file of unit records captured by U.S. forces. (The others are RM-5848, RM-5849, RM-5850, and RM-5851.) In the period covered by the records, early 1966 to mid-May 1967, the unit was under-strength and saw little action. Much time was spent reorganizing, training, and bolstering morale. These letters to friends and relatives reveal the hopes and fears of soldiers in wartime. Although they have a self-conscious tone, perhaps because their authors feared censorship, the contents are no doubt sincere. They impart a strong sense of group solidarity and social cohesiveness. Most of them are the correspondence a young cadre, whose reaction to the death of his fiancee in an artillery shelling is reflected in several stirring poems he composed vowing to defeat the Americans and reunify the country. The letters do not evince a "scholar at war"; they are the private, simple annals of the obscure. But that may be the key to their value — in showing the enemy to be like soldiers everywhere.